The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) – Friday Night At The Home Drive-In

Poster for The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) by #BertIGordon
#GlennLangan #CathyDowns

After sustaining fatal radiation burns, an Army colonel miraculously heals & begins to grow larger.
“Savage Giant on a Blood-Mad Rampage!”
“Not even the U.S. Army can keep her away from the man she loved–but only the U.S. Army can save her from the monster he became!”

#Horror #SciFi

I don’t think I ever saw The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) on late night TV when I was young – or any time since, for that matter. For some inexplicable reason I’ve seen the sequel, War of the Colossal Beast (1958), several times. Having seen photographs in magazines, and clips on TV (not to mention flashback scenes in War of the Colossal Beast), I’ve been wanting to see The Amazing Colossal Man for a long time. Last Friday I finally got my chance…

What’s it all about?

The Amazing Colossal Man starts off with soldiers gathering at a nuclear test site – or rather, a plutonium explosion test site. Something goes wrong. The bomb doesn’t go off. The soldiers are ordered to stay where they are, with their sunglasses on.

They hear a plane approaching. It seems to be having a problem of some sort and winds up crash landing right in the test site – and the bomb could go off any second. A colonel named Glenn Manning runs into the danger zone in an attempt to rescue whoever is in the plane.

The bomb goes off, showering Glenn with whatever fallout a plutonium bomb delivers.

At the hospital, we learn that the unfortunate colonel has third-degree burns over 100% of his body. The doctors do not hold out much hope… but the next day, Glenn’s skin has miraculously grown back. The doctors do not know how to explain it.

The plot thickens

The movie gets interesting when Cathy, Glenn’s fiancé, tries to see him only to discover that he has disappeared from the hospital. And what’s worse – no one admits to ever knowing that he was there. Cathy goes on a quest to locate her man and expose what might be a massive cover-up.

When does he turn into The Amazing Colossal Man and start stomping on people?

Well… the funny thing is… The Amazing Colossal Man is really kind of a soap opera. You can almost call it a slow burn. Once the initial plutonium blast occurs, it’s mainly a lot of drama and emoting. There’s not a whole lot of action. The poor main character, Glenn, is slowly going insane as he grows larger and larger. He is understandably upset, and perhaps is trying to drive his fiancé Cathy away for her sake. And while I can appreciate this kind of slow burn in a lot of horror movies, in this case… it’s a little bit dull.

Don’t get me wrong. It has a lot of good elements. And you really do feel for the characters. It is perhaps a perfect example of a feel-bad-for-the-monster-movie.

I think perhaps the problem for me is that I saw the sequel first. The Amazing Colossal Man is really like the necessary back story for War of the Colossal Beast, which is almost entirely giant-monster-crushing-things action.

So does he ever turn into The Amazing Colossal Man and start stomping on people?

Two thirds of the way through the running time, giant Glenn finally decides to take a powder. The army searches for him, hoping to get him back and cure him. Still not much action, as he’s nowhere to be found.

Finally, Glenn arrives in Las Vegas with about 10 minutes left in the movie. A woman screams when she sees him, but still no carnage.

A crowd gathers to stare at him. He looks at them, confused, then through a high rise window and sees a woman having a bath (?!) Glenn smashes the window, perhaps to get a better look at her…?

I suppose that counts as a small bit of carnage, but as the crowd increases, and police pull up, Glenn calmly walks away.

Finally, some idiot police officers fire guns at Glenn (defying orders they had received). This, of course, enrages the giant. He rips up a tree and tosses it into the crowd. They scatter in terror – and with just over five minutes left in the running time of this movie – the carnage has finally officially begun…

So, what’s the final word?

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) is, without a doubt, #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It’s one of the more famous titles, and certainly should be seen by all fans of giant monster movies at least once. It contains some of Burt I. Gordon’s signature touches. Not only does a man grow larger and larger, but we also see animals, including an elephant, shrunk down to the size of a dog.

In some ways the sequel, War of the Colossal Beast, may actually deliver more entertainment value. But perhaps if you saw this this one first, it might be more exciting to you. In any case, The Amazing Colossal Man is well worth checking it out – especially if you’ve never seen either film. Why not give it a look on your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn?

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